The Aldermore SME Future Attitudes report reveals today that two thirds (69%) of West Midland based small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – representing 285,000* firms in the West Midlands with under 250 employees – say they have a diverse workforce, with almost half (45%) stating that improving diversity in the workplace is a focus over the next 12 months.
The report, which surveyed over a thousand senior business decision-makers across the UK, found that there are a number of reasons why they would describe their organisation as diverse. These include having an employee base with a wide age range (44%), being open to making adjustments for disabled employees to ensure they are not placed at a disadvantage (41%), having an ethnically diverse employee base (39%) and having a positive female to male ratio across the company (39%). Over a third (35%) of SMEs in the West Midlands also have female employees at a senior level and over a quarter (29%) employ diversity initiatives to ensure a positive work environment free from discrimination
Moreover, over a quarter (27%) of SMEs in the West Midlands admit to being much more likely to do business with a supplier, partner or provider that is well known for its inclusive employment strategies.
Despite this positive picture, a fifth (21%) of small and medium sized businesses in the West Midlands say they have no intention of becoming more diverse over the next year and an additional fifth (21%) said that increasing diversity is a low priority. This could be because their workforce is too small to be considered diverse (49%), but, at the same time, some SME leaders in the West Midlands also confessed that they tended not to attract a diverse range of potential employees (10%).
Carl D’Ammassa, Group Managing Director, Business Finance at Aldermore, said: “According to the last census**, the West Midlands is the second most diverse region in the UK so it is to be expected that the vast majority of small and medium-sized business owners in the region describe their workforce as diverse. However you define diversity, be it by age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or disability, promoting a diverse workforce should be a key consideration within any business, since employees from a range of backgrounds can offer different experiences to help drive the success of progressive businesses. “